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Childcare subsidies dry up amid shutdown

Posted October 15, 2013

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— Durham County Social Services mailed letters Tuesday to inform local childcare providers that about 2,000 children from low-income families will lose federal financial aid for their care this week.

Poor children who qualify get vouchers to pay for a year of childcare, but most of the funding for those vouchers – $203.9 million of $330.9 million this year – comes from the federal government.

The federal government shutdown means that money isn't there, and county leaders are facing tough decisions about whether they can afford to help the children who need it.

"When 2,000 kids don't have childcare, it means parents may not be able to go to work, or they have to flip to a Plan B that may be not necessarily so stable," Durham County DSS Director Michael Becketts said.

The move comes one day after the state Department of Health and Human Services sent counties new annual child-care budgets – without federal money.

Durham lost 60 percent of its budget, and Becketts said the county can't afford to pick up the tab.

"It would cost about $60,000 a day or $1.2 million a month," he said.

Wake and Cumberland counties took even bigger hits, with each losing two-thirds of its childcare budget.

Childcare center generic, child care Durham halts financial aid for childcare; Wake works to keep funding going

Wake County officials said it is working with the Smart Start program to bridge a $527,000 gap so that childcare subsidies can continue through the end of the month. Cumberland County officials said they haven't yet decided what to do, and county commissioners will discuss the matter next week.

With no guarantee the federal money's coming back at its current level, Becketts said Durham County's program has to stop spending, and his hope is that local employers and providers can be flexible.

"There's no magic box full of money waiting for someone to just open it or a faucet to turn on," he said.

Durham is one of 36 counties that have told DHHS they're stopping their childcare subsidies during the shutdown. Seven have already stopped paying.

Becketts said some providers who serve low-income communities may have to lay off staff or close their doors.

"The cuts that are happening are happening to the people who are the least able to have financial alternatives," he said. "So, I don't know what the answer is. I just hope that one morning we'll wake up and the federal government will be open."

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  • junkmail5 Oct 16, 2013

    a hand up is one thing,a hand out that lasts for years is another and alot of americans are fed up with it
    southerntalent

    Without the program many of these folks would have to QUIT their job and go back on greater government help.

    How is "watching their kids while they GO TO A JOB" not a hand UP?

    It seems like EXACTLY the kind of program right-wingers claim they support! It ENABLES THE POOR TO GO WORK AT JOBS.

  • southerntalent Oct 16, 2013

    lots of liberals don't believe in the forever handout programs either

    a hand up is one thing,a hand out that lasts for years is another and alot of americans are fed up with it

  • junkmail5 Oct 16, 2013

    heh... I love the right wing attitude....

    "We shouldn't give money to lazy poor people"

    Uh... ok... but this program gives WORKING poor people childcare during the day so they can GO TO WORK.

    "Well... uh... those lazy children should go get jobs themselves and quit freeloading!"

  • southerntalent Oct 16, 2013

    Tough Luck,try not having those little earned income credit folks if you can not afford them.

    Make an informed decision to not have children if you can not afford them.

    Next up,let's cut off the earned income program along with wic and disability for the kids whose parents milk that system

  • theblazer Oct 16, 2013

    Check out the video of the WalMart that let the freeloaders have no EBT limit last week. They tried to clean out the entire store, which was criminal, and that is the culture of dependence being created. At some point people need to realize that their own actions have consequences, and constitutionally I shouldn't have to pay for them.

  • thereyouare Oct 16, 2013

    The childcare subsidy is not for 'free babysitting days'. It is a program to ASSIST parents that are working or in school and if the parents could pay for the program then the program wouldn't exist. Many parents that use this program do not get free childcare, their fees are just reduced based on their income. I know this because I am one of those parents and I still have to pay my part. You are trying to lump all people that use assistance into one stereotypical category. There is nothing wrong with needing assistance sometimes, you are assuming that anyone who need this is lazy and greedy. I work full time, am over 30, in college and only have 1 child but my income is limited so daycare is not very affordable for me. This is the ONLY assistance I get...no debit card or money sprouting into my mailbox. You can be critical of things but make sure you can back it with intelligence.

  • dontstopnow Oct 15, 2013

    This shutdown might turn out to be a education for some people. Learn that money does not grow and sprout into your mailbox or debit card without working. Gee wouldn't that be a great thing?

  • WralCensorsAreBias Oct 15, 2013

    Let the parents of the kids who want these type programs PAY FOR THEM!

    Otherwise do not whine. The free baby sitting days are over.

  • Myword Oct 15, 2013

    And the GOP looked upon all its work and smiled at what it had wrought.